My brother, Jann, and I have been working together on a P&P novel. It began almost two years ago in response to Jann’s shameless and relentless begging for me to write something with him. I mean, really, he would not leave me alone until I agreed to work with him, give him some pointers, and in general oversee this work to its completion.
Now, if you believe any of that I have a lovely bridge for sale, complete with a view of Manhattan. The price is reasonable, as I am getting older and don’t use it as much anymore.
Getting back to reality, we have been working on this since mid-2019 and have, at last, finished the first draft. We are beginning the editing process but I thought a preview might be in order, and Jann agreed.
The plot revolves around an injury Mr. Darcy sustains while unknowingly trespassing on the Bennet estate. He is taken to Longbourn and, due to the extent of his injuries, is forced to spend some weeks recuperating. Of course, being Mr. Darcy, he does not take his confinement with much grace or humility. The excerpt that follows exposes both Mr. Darcy’s personality and Mr. Bennet’s sense of humor, which I have always thought is somewhat sardonic and one of his best traits.
We hope this whets your whistle, to use an old cliché:
A soft thump, followed by a rustle of fabric rubbing against the door drew the attention of both men. Mr. Bennet stepped over to the entry and, grasping the handle, turned it and pulled the door open, spilling two teenage girls into the room. A third stood in the hallway outside, trying to affect a look of innocence and nonchalance.
Mr. Bennet looked at the two girls who were each scrambling to untangle themselves from the other. Finally successful, they began a retreat from the bedroom to the security of the hall, and from there to the relative safety of the furthest reaches of the building.
“Stop,” said he as the girls were about to make good on their escape.
“What have you to say for yourselves?” he demanded, waiting for an answer which showed no signs of making an appearance.
“Since you are here,” said Mr. Bennet, “I will introduce you to our guest, so he knows who to avoid while he is with us.”
“Mr. Darcy, may I present my three most impetuous daughters. My youngest, the one who is determined to gray my hair prematurely and drive me to an early grave, is Lydia.”
“As you can see, she is an impressive girl, being both the tallest of my daughters, and the loudest. The impish grin on her face, suggesting a playful mischievous manner is, in fact, her wont.”
“Her partner in crime is Catherine, or Kitty as she is known to all. Kitty is a year and some months senior to Lydia, but more often than not finds herself pulled into Lydia’s mischief. She is at present intensely studying the floor upon which her feet are resting, in embarrassment at being discovered, I presume.”
“The other, who is attempting to hold up the wall all by herself, is Mary. Mary is the eldest of this trio, and the most serious of my daughters, as you can see from the look of reproach she is throwing at her two sisters, as though daring them to further include her in their rambunctious activities. She is a quiet girl, more interested in the good book and her understanding of its lessons.
“Now that you have been introduced to our esteemed guest, off with you; go find Mrs. Bennet and pester her,” said Mr. Bennet as he sent them on their way.
“Please forgive them,” said he when peace and quiet had been restored, “I fear the enthusiasm of youth and the joy of chasing after the unknown has been the cause of their intrusion. Their behavior will not go unpunished.”
Darcy’s response to all of the excitement was a gaping yawn as a wave of exhaustion overtook him.
“You are tired,” said Mr. Bennet, noticing Darcy’s drawn face and slumping shoulders. “I will leave you to rest. Unfortunately, this room has been pressed into service as a bedroom for you and does not have a lanyard to signal the household staff. Please accept this as a substitute,” said he and producing a bell, placed it on the table standing beside the bed.
“That will be most difficult to grasp,” Darcy complained. “I am unable to make use of the arm that would be best able to shake the bell,” said he.
“Forgive me, it would appear that I have given you a right-handed bell in error,” said Mr. Bennet with the smallest of smiles. “Let me just go and find the proper one. This might take me some time, as left-handed bells are truly a rarity in these parts. I might be able to send to London for a left-handed clapper, one that would allow the blacksmith to convert this right-handed bell for use by the left hand, but until it arrives you are unfortunately saddled with this one.”
Darcy looked at the man for the better part of a full minute before seeing the humor in his retort. With a shake of his head he lay back onto the mattress.
“Well, right-handed will have to do then, I guess”, said he.
He shifted, trying vainly to find comfort in the old mattress, but every movement sent sharp pain through his damaged arm from the hand to the shoulder, forcing a gasp through his clenched teeth.
“The apothecary has prescribed for your pain and informed me he will bring it by later. When I have it, I will have some prepared and brought to you. That will improve the quality of your rest tonight,” Mr. Bennett told him.
“No!” exclaimed Darcy. “I will be fine without that infernal laudanum.”
“What makes you suppose he has prescribed laudanum?” said Mr. Bennet. “There are other remedies for pain.”
“Because that is what apothecaries always suggest, and I want nothing to do with it.”
“As you wish,” said Mr. Bennet as he let himself out, closing the door quietly and retreating to his library for meditation and separation from the usual household chaos.
When Mr. Jones, the local apothecary, returned that afternoon to check on the patient, he received a similar reception from the gentleman, prompting Bennet to laugh quietly to himself. The thought that Mr. Darcy might be a poor patient and a demanding houseguest he had considered, and now it seemed certain. Bennet did not attend Mr. Jones’s examination himself, for the presence of his man, Snell—whom Bennet was already beginning to consider more than a bit of an oddity—meant Jones would have all the assistance he required.
As I said, the story is in the editing phase, so some of the phrasing, conversations, etc., could change a bit. We haven’t thought of the title yet, or designed the cover, so there is a lot left to do. We might publish at the end of April, although that is very optimistic, so please don’t hold me to that. I hope you enjoyed the read!